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NOW on the News with Maria Hinojosa

Jeannette Walls on Poverty and Homelessness

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This week, Maria Hinojosa talks to the author Jeannette Walls about her experiences growing up in extreme poverty, as described in her memoir, "The Glass Castle." Walls describes the problems that plagued her family, and how she was able to break free of a destructive lifestyle and become a successful journalist.

Interview Excerpts:

"This is something that I lived with, with a secret, for a long time. I didn't tell anybody that my mother was living on the street and in fact that I was homeless from time to time. It was a source of shame."

"If you speak to just about any homeless person, one of the things they'll tell you is that people look right past them ... and if you just smile and nod at the person I think that just means the world to them."

"While I was writing it [her memoir], I hoped that people ...would read it and say 'you know, she's not that different from me.'"

"The worst thing about being homeless is the shame, the embarrassment and the humiliation."

"There was no doubt it my mind that once people knew the truth about me that I was going to be ostracized, that people were going to throw rocks at me. And I realize now that part of that was taking these old fears and experiences from my childhood when people found out how poor we were."

"I honestly do believe that some of us kids who had tough childhoods are in some ways at an advantage over the more privileged kids of this world. We're fighters, we know how to make a situation work for us. The trick is knowing when to stop fighting, and I think that's something I'm just starting to learn."

"Everybody who is on the street is unique. Everybody has a story and everybody has a reason that they're there."

About Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, and spent her childhood in Arizona, California and Nevada. When she was 10 her family moved into an unheated shack in a coal-mining town in West Virginia. At the age of 17, Walls moved with her sister to New York City, where they moved into an apartment in the South Bronx. After completing high school, she attended Barnard College and became a successful journalist for outlets including New York magazine, USA Today, Esquire, and most recently, MSNBC.

Walls' award-winning memoir, "The Glass Castle," has been translated into sixteen languages and was on the New York Times best-seller list for over a year.

Related Links:

» Excerpt: The Glass Castle

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